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Tourist Information - Lucete Fortes
Santo Antao Map

Santo Antão

in a Wheelchair


Cape Verde Map small Ilha do Sal Maio Santo Antão São Vicente São Nicolau Boa Vista Santiago Brava Fogo Ilha do Sal Maio Santo Antão São Vicente São Nicolau Boa Vista Santiago Brava Fogo

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Jean François with friends

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Jean-François Porret
from Grenoble has happily returned from vacation on Santo Antão island where he tracked minor roads and some quite challenging hiking trails in his ORWC (Off Road Wheel Chair).

Cova de Paúl - Vila das Pombas

I have been in a wheelchair for the last 12 years after a paragliding accident which made me a quadriplegic (paralysed from the chest down and with very little hand function). At the time I was working for a computer firm in California and continued working there for another year after the injury. This is how I discovered a great invention, the "Cobra", designed by an outstanding engineer named John Castellano. At first glance, it looks like a fancy toy for kids, but when you get into it, you suddenly realise that it is nothing else than a very High Tech mountain bike for mobility impaired persons. The early nightmare of the disability suddenly transformed into a life full of new hopes and dreams. 

I started dreaming about Cabo Verde three years ago while watching very appealing images of hiking on Santo Antão. Based on what I saw, I gained confidence and realised that I could potentially get over there and try to ride down one of those incredible trails with my special wheelchair.

The most difficult thing about our Santo Antão trip was actually gathering the reliable enough information to undertake a realistic project. The key contacts have been Pitt Reitmaier and Lucete Fortes. Not only did they provide me with their hiking map and associated guide-book, but also sorted out all trails and adopted their classification of trails for my special purpose!

This is how we ended up, with a few experienced mountain friends and family members, in the famous boat linking Mindelo to Porto Novo. Whaouh! Here is where the real adventure starts! My wheelchair and I had been placed between the bananas, the rhum jerricans (not bad after all...), and overhanging piles of heavy boxes. What actually worried me most was sitting right under the (seasick) passengers level, and the subsequent exposure to potential splashing...

We started with the highly known mule path from Cova to Paùl. This turned out to be a very pleasant trail, with a 1200 meter drop and a good introduction to the kind of steepness one can expect to find in this island. Getting out of the crater was a short but strenuous climb during  which I had to be carried up. Then started the actual wheeling fun. The first part of the trail was quite rough due to some fallen rocks and my friends assisted me in getting past them and in handling the very sharp switchbacks. The second half ran smoother, and I was able to do it by myself, even though it remained quite steep.

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Jean François with friends

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Our local host was Luizette’s brother, Dany, the usual contact for all the French visitors. He provided us with the logistics to get to the beginning of the trails we wanted to tackle and then to pick us up at the end. He also very efficiently helped sort out which ones were in good condition and were within the  constraints of the Cobra .

It is very important to give a word of caution first.
The last 2 routes are extreme for ORWCs and should not be tried without years of practice and without strong and very experienced friends.

Lagoa - Caibros - Boca de Ambas as Ribeiras

This first success was very promising and, following Dany's recommendation, we drove to Lagoa from where we headed down via Caibros towards Boca de Ambas Ribeiras. This is a very attractive trail, well protected by small stone walls at first, but then rougher, more difficult and steeper than Cova. I needed more assistance as the trail was sometimes barely wider than my wheelchair and with the potential to fall hundreds of meters to the side. The bottom part, when arriving at the first village was also very steep but still OK.

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Jean François with friends

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Pico da Cruz - Fajã de Janela - Ribeira de Janela

Then, we decided to try the famous caminho linking Pico da Cruz to Janela, with a 1500 meter drop. This one proved to be extremely difficult. I had to be carried over one portion, far too narrow for the off-road wheelchair. It was found to be very risky with no protection, unstable ground, a high potential of falling, and continuously very steep. I needed help during most of the first half of the route. I felt released when I reached Faja de Janela, the first village...

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Santo Antão 1: 40 000São Vicente 1:35 000São Nicolau 1:50 000Boa Vista - Sal - Maio  1:50 000Santiago 1:50 000Fogo-Brava 1:50 000Cabo Verde 1:150 000

Maps of the Cape Verde Islands
by Dr. Pitt Reitmaier / Lucete Fortes / Attila Bertalan
AB Editors Karlsruhe

Legend in English, Portuguese, German, French or Italian

Klicken zur Seite : Reisehandbuch Cabo Verde

The Cape Verde Guidebook going In-Depth
Reisehandbuch Cabo Verde
German Language only!

Pitt Reitmaier, Lucete Fortes
Reise-Know-How Verlag
ISBN 978-3-8317-2613-4
23.90 EUR  
update  07.08.2020